Raf Simons is the godfather of the ugly-sneaker wave—but his new sneakers for Calvin Klein feel like a departure from his current Americana-centric aesthetic.
Raf Simons is widely regarded as the forefather of today’s ugly fashion sneaker. (You know the ugly sneaker—it’s the delightfully off-kilter footwear trend we’ve been talking about for months now.) His early collaborations with Adidas and their clunky Ozweego running sneaker date back to 2013, well before the designer-dad-kicks craze swept through contemporary men’s fashion. (Raf’s self-titled label offered similar styles even before that, too.) To date, most of Simons’s work under Calvin Klein 205W39NYC has stayed within a very fashion-y Western aesthetic. The majority of the brand’s current footwear offerings feel ready for a rodeo: ultra-colorful cowboy boots, Western ankle boots with toe plates, and harness-strap calf-leather boots.
That’s why his latest sneaker for Calvin Klein—a clunky lace-up athletic shoe made of napa leather and suede—is an unexpected addition to the lineup. Yes, it has all the makings of a great “ugly” sneaker—extra-chunky sole, bulky silhouette, a mix-and-match of different fabrics—but put in the context of the denim-on-denim looks and cowboy boots, we’re still wondering where exactly this sneaker fits in with the rest of the label.
Now, we can’t speak to the motivations behind this shoe. Maybe, because Raf was so ahead of the curve with his Ozweegos, the brand simply wanted to make sure they got in on the ugly-sneaker action while the getting was still good. But with their sporty, futuristic look, these kicks do in fact seem out of place next to all the other nostalgia-inducing Western clothes. That said, the sneaker will still likely appeal to the Raf superfans. The oversize shape and treaded sole feel similar to his previous handiwork, and the mix of leather, suede, and neoprene is a nice touch. (Although we’re not sure about the weird snapback-like strap on the heel of the shoe.) Even if there isn’t as much Raf Simons magic in this sneaker as we’d like to see, the designer will always have a knack for making unconventional kicks feel cool.
$695, available for pre-order now via Calvin Klein.